Date of Award
Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary
Doctor of Ministry DMin
Bruce L. Bauer
In most multi-church districts the pastoral burden rests with the local church elders. However, these elders receive little or no training concerning the important pastoral duty of assimilation and nurture of new converts into a local church fellowship. Thus, new converts often feel isolated and neglected and some either backslide or remain inactive in their new-found faith. In the East Zimbabwe Conference 18,349 new members were added in 2010 bringing its membership to 247,935 with only 56 district pastors. The conference needs a cost effective strategy to nurture new members.
The role of elders as pastoral care givers in the local church was established by examining Old and New Testament texts, E. G. White writings, and other Christian authors. This material was used in seminars to train and equip elders for effective assimilation and nurture of new converts. A logframe and a Gantt chart were employed to plan and monitor this project.
The results of the final questionnaires to new converts and elders indicate an improvement in the involvement of elders in nurturing new converts after the intervention. There was also a greater involvement of new converts in witnessing and participation in other church programs. The percentage of new converts who owned Bibles, hymnbooks, manuals for Bible doctrines, and Sabbath School study guides also increased by the end of the program.
Local church elders, when rightly trained, can bridge the pastoral gap created by pastors having too many churches in a district and the rapid church growth in Africa that often leaves new converts with little or no post-baptismal care.
Elders (Church officers)--Training of, Elders (Church officers)--Zimbabwe--Seventh-day Adventists, Discipling (Christianity), East Zimbabwe Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division. Zimbabwe Union Conference. East Zimbabwe Conference.
Chifamba, Enock, "A Strategy to Train Local Church Elders for Effective Assimilation and Nurture of New Converts" (2014). Project Documents. 262.